Traditional Drawing Supplies



The materials I tend to use when drawing traditionally are:

For anatomical studies from books or life:

-ballpoint pen
-any size sketchbook, preferably a standard medium-sized one (not a tiny one)
-pencil rarely

For figurative drawings / life drawings:

-several charcoal pencils (6B Generals) for figurative drawing
-or Carb Othello pencils (more expensive, harder to find, but softer)
-exacto knife to sharpen charcoal pencils
-sandpaper pad to sand sharpened charcoal pencils
-paper towels for pencil shavings
-18" x 24" newsprint pad
-standard masonite drawing board with clips to accommodate 18" x 24" newsprint pad
-support for drawing board (eg, easel – I just use a black lightweight aluminum tripod-style easel)
-gum eraser (used rarely)

Hope this is useful :slight_smile:



One other that can be used for quick figures is actually India ink (Very fun). The last art Figure drawing class I had a section we used India ink. It is really hard to get use to but it is really rewarding. And because of the random factor of it spreading because it is a liquid you end up with some interesting forms. It was actually quite amazing how quickly you could do shadows with India ink with just a few strokes of your brush or bamboo pen. At the end you get a really interesting feel. It looks watery and softer instead of what other mediums like

charcoal give a rougher feel.

-India ink
-Round brush (a smaller and bigger one)
-Bamboo pen
-Water container
-Towels for testing the ink before placing.

A few tips for India ink

-start really light and get progressively darker.

-Use washes. You basically add water to your painting paper with your wet brush and than grab ink and place. While it is on the paper you can control it a lot more because of the wet paper and do gradients. Since it is wet the ink will spread so if you grab a lot of ink it will most likely spread through the whole washed area.

-Use small amounts of ink. A quarter sized puddle of ink can pretty much do a whole figure drawing.

-Before placing test the amount of ink quickly on a towel.

It is tough to get the hang of it. I am no master but it is really fun and more lose than charcoal and definitely pencil drawings.


Some more tips:)

For a cheap paper you can get large rolls of brown heavy masking paper from Home Depot. Of course they are not archival but its more for practice. I cut them to fit my large drawing board and use cante crayon, chalks and charcoal on them.

A good way to work with the above media is the redish cante crayon, for a mid tones.
(Also the brown of the paper or course works as a midtone.)

White chalk for highlight.

Charcoal for the darkest shades.

There is here is a link with good info on using chalks.…/OnPrudon1.html


Desp#2/Rog and Sulla,

Thank you for these great suggestions! I think it is greatly helpful to know what materials different artists use. :slight_smile:



For quick and stayfast rendering in deep blacks, I suggest Prismacolor pencils, these aren’t ordinary pencils, they have wax in their tips - similar to Chinagraph pencils, but much much better, I typically buy a pack of 12 at a time, I roughly use about 1 a week! :eek:

For quick value throwdowns for concept artists, I recommend Copic grayscale markers, they have a dual chiseltip and finetip and are also refillable which saves in the long run, you can get a wide variety of value scales from light to dark grey, and there are numerous hues of grey, from warm, to cool to neutral. Much better quality than Prismacolor Markers imo, and last longer too.

For penwork, I typically use the Hi-Tec C pens that were made popular by Feng Zhu when he rendered physically and also used by Scott Robertson, they are typically pretty difficult to get on the net, but I;ve sourced out a place: - now, if you can find a little Tokyo place in your city, i suggest trying there first as these are honestly pretty common pens in Japan and are quite cheap, but online sellers know they are hard to come by outside of japan and mark up. Best thing about these pens are that they have supersmooth and clean strokes as well as markerfast if you let them fry for a minute or two.


magic man, what is the full name of those pencils?

also what is the difference between papers? i have one sketch book i got i forget where (walgreens i think haha) but it has a different “grade” of paper than another and it just seems to be thicker?

what king of paper does everyone suggest?


Their full name is Prismacolor Professional Art Pencils.

Paper, I typically use plain copy paper for concept work, doesn’t bleed with marker and has almost no discerable grain. I typically dont use physical media for artwork though, most concepts are finished on computer and printed with photopaper, but I am getting back into traditiona media alot more and I’d be interested to know what are the best papers for charcoal.


Just bought my first set of prismacolour pencils(Yeah, took us awhile in irc before we figured out its called karismacolor in Europe). Set me back €139 for 72. I hear its worth every dime.


Yes they are excellent rendering tools, but like any instrument they take some practice to get used to.

A few tips:

a. when you render with them, use them almost delicately when laying down guidelines, I apply very little pressure and almost let the weight of the pencil draw its own line.

b. prismacolors are extremely difficult to erase once darkened which is why you do (a) :wink:

c. don’t stinge on them, the leads are extremely soft so sharp tips dull very quickly, generaly for every 3 long strokes, I need to sharpen if I am rendering an edge, so the best thing to do to get mileage out of your pencil is to know where edges are important where they are not, when you have sharpened, work on an edge as long as it hold, once it starts dulling down, work on a shade are where a point is not need until you need to sharpen again, then work the edges again. Thats what I found to be most economical.

d. sometimes, dont know why, but sometimes the leads have fairly consistent carbon deposits in them, that scratch the shit out of your paper, if after 3 or four sharpens you still find the lead has a scratchy feeling, get rid of it, there are some bad batches. Prismacolor pencils should always feel smooth when applying, but with more friction created between tip and paper than regular graphite.

Have fun.


Thanks for the tips Magic man.


For the people in Gemany, there are no shops (I havn´t found one yet) where you can buy “Prismacolor” but there are ones from Faber Castell called “Polychromos”. They are pretty much the same and you can get them everywhere!


I simply use whatever pencil I can find… preferrably soft pencils like 6b or 3b and any piece of paper will do :stuck_out_tongue:


I personaly prefer silverpoint. I find it to be an extrmely precise and elegant medium. It requires a great deal of patience, good understanding of line quality, and very deliberate placment of strokes, but produces very beautifull drawings.

For those of you who know what silverpoint is, this next bit may bore you. For those who do not, keep reading.

Long before compresed wood encased graphite and pens that dispensed self contained ink many great masters used silverpoint. Leonardo, Rembrandt, Rapahel, Michelangelo, Tiepolo, Chardin, Delacroix, David, Ignes and many many more. Tratditionaly it was a thin piece of sterling silver held in place between two wooden sticks. Nowadays, you can use a standard mechanical pencil to hold your piece of silver. The great thing about this medium is that the silver lead (insert) will last you many many years (I have had mine since 1998 and have hardly made a dent in it) andi it allways remains sharp. It also has the ability to tarnish over the years, going from silver (similar to a 2h or 4h pencil) to a beautifull light brown.

What you need:
a mechanical pencil large enough to hold your silver (.9mm will do)
a mechanical pencil lead size piece of silver (available at any jewelry store that does repairs)
watercolor paper or printmaking paper
gauche or gesso
sand paper
(optional: marbel dust)

prepare your paper: you can stretch it if you want to, but itis not required. Mix some marble dust into your gesso (this is optional), apply the gesso (you can also use gauche) to the paper with a standard paint brush (you only need a thin coat), let dry, sand and you are ready to draw. While this seems to be alot of work it takes hardly any time at all and you end up with a time tested permnant medium.




Im not sure if prismacolor makes these, but they are excellent and work with prismacolor, they are called col-erase. they are much lighter than prismacolor, even when you press hard, they come in a variety of colors and can be erased much easier than prismas(still work lightly and build up). We use them in our life drawing class. They way we used it was, light sketching with col-erase, then assertive lines and blocking of forms, then we could proceed with darker colors of col-erase and if necessary enhance contrast with prismacolor… Hope this helps!


Silverpoint! Great stuff indeed. I haven’t drawn with mine in quite a while. I should dust that sucker off. One specially nice feature of it is it works great for drawing your layout on canvas before painting; much better than graphite or charcoal for that purpose. It makes a light mark and won’t rub off. That’s another feature: it can’t be erased. The drawings are usually very soft and subtle. They don’t reproduce that well, certainly need to be seen in person to be appreciated.

Outside of graphite and ink, my favorite drawing medium is oil pastel. You can thin it with solvent like oil paint, but I prefer to keep it dry. Small details are hard to achieve, so I tend to let it work in large areas of color. I occasionally use them on top of oil paintings to add texture. Neat stuff.



another good thing about silverpoint and painting is that the medium doesnt lift when a (vehicle such as oil) is applied. good call dbclemons, quite right.


For those people who live in the UK and can’t find any shops that sell ‘Prismacolor’ pencils there are identicle pencils call Karisma, weird I think maybe the name was changed when they came over here. Anyway they are wonderful to use :slight_smile:

I bought my set from Hobby Craft but many good art shops sell them too


I would reconmend mechanical pencils. They make consisant lines and they do not need to be sharpened. Plush they are great fo making tonal drawings. (h,hb,and 2b pentel leads)
printer paper (this scans way better than sketchbook paper). Pencilgrips for those you guy who grip the pencil to tightly. Cardstock/Scrapbook paper is a nice alternative to bristol paper. It is cheaper and you can get it in just about the same thickness as bristol.


One tool that I do not see anyone using anymore are graphite sticks.
I just bought a 2b woodless pencil and it is great. It lasts 3 times longer than a wooden pencil.


eh? i picked up prisma colours a few weeks ago here in east london.